Director: Wim Wenders
Running Time: 105 mins
Buena Vista Social Club is a German documentary about the story of a group of legendary Cuban musicians who reunite for a triumphant performance to an adoring crowd, telling the story of their lives through their music.
It’s clear that Buena Vista Social Club is a movie full of passion and love for its subject matter, with director Wim Wenders styling it far more like a love letter to Cuban music than a standard documentary. There’s no normal narration, and the film weaves freely between renditions of classic musicians’ works and the story behind them, rather than telling a linear story of how this all came to be.
That kind of passion for a subject matter is so often entirely infectious, and while that’s certainly the case at times in Buena Vista Social Club, the film is also very much a work for those who already love and know the history and people involved in its focus.
I’m not one who has much knowledge of Cuban music, and it’s fair to say that I struggled to really connect with this film’s passion for it, as the movie doesn’t spend time explaining the background in a way that’s accessible for wider audiences.
Of course, not every movie has to made for a wider audience, and I’m certain that fans of both Wenders and of Cuban music will certainly adore this film’s immense passion for the story. However, if you aren’t in the know, then Buena Vista Social Club may be a bit of a heavy watch for you.
That’s certainly how it proved for me, and as such I feel it’s difficult to critique really objectively, simply because of my own lack of knowledge and background understanding of the subject matter. If this were a more bog-standard documentary, I may have learned more, but then it’s not likely that the film would have had the same overflowing passion.
All I do know is that, from my brief experience of watching Chico And Rita, Cuban music is so full of life and passion that knowing more about it is something I do want to do, and as such I’ll return to this movie in the future when I’ve got a little more understanding of the subject matter.
In the meantime, I think it’s safe to say that Buena Vista Social Club is a film very much made for fans and followers of Cuban music. If you know about the subject matter, then I’m sure you will adore this film, and if – like me – you don’t, then it’s going to be a much tougher watch. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.0 overall.